‘Festival dei Popoli’s’ 60th Anniversary Edition

A scene from “Cunningham in 3D”

Until Nov. 9: FESTIVAL DEI POPOLI, International Documentary Film Festival. La Compagnia Cinema, via Cavour 50/r. Screenings are in the original language with English and Italian subtitles.

This year the theme of the Festival dei Popoli film festival is “Diamonds are Forever,” in honor of the event’s 60th anniversary edition. The program for the diamond anniversary offers showings of 20 movies from the past 60 years alongside its international and Italian competition of new films.  Festival dei Popoli will showcase entries produced in Italy and abroad with the mission of promoting “cutting-edge films” and “providing a space for the cinematic arts,” according to the organizers. The festival will be held primarily at Cinema La Compagnia (via Cavour 50/r), offering 109 films from over 90 countries.

The program includes Wiseman’s “Titicut Follies” (11/4, 5:15 pm), Kieslowski’s “First Love” (11/4, 3 pm), and Akerman’s “Sud” (11/4, 6:30 pm) in addition to its competitions. These films are meant to showcase the innovative documentaries that still influence modern cinema today, complementing the new films that will compete this year. Alongside the showings and the contests, there are workshops, special events, retrospectives, and masterclasses offered to connect filmmakers and film students.

Special Events

Movies that are not part of a special theme or competition include a film on the choreographer, Merce Cunningham (“Cunningham 3D,” 11/4, 9 pm), and a work centered around two Palestinians that love parkour (“One More Jump,” 11/5, 9 pm). There also will be a specific musical-themed section called “Hit Me with Music, including one set in the suburbs of Lisbon (“Lisbon Beat,” 11/9, 6 pm).  “Lisbon Beat” will be followed by a party, “Buh,” with live music to close out the festival at the Circolo Culturale Urbano (11/9, 10:30 pm).

Another theme that will be explored during the festival is “Habitat.” It will offer 13 titles that focus on how humans are destroying the earth we live on and what are possible solutions there can be to save our habitat. The highlighted film for this section is “Welcome to Sodom” and is about the largest electronic waste dump in the world at Accra, Ghana (11/6, 9 pm).

There will also be a tribute to Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa, who is known for his film portrayals, both fictional works and documentaries, of Ukraine during Soviet dictatorship.  This tribute, “The Illusion of the Present,” will screen several documentaries and feature films by Loznitsa, highlighting his newest movie State Funeral, which shows archival footage from the funeral of Stalin. The director himself has described this event as “the end of the epoch” and addresses the Russian leader’s personality cult and how it propped up the regime that was never the same again after his passing (11/5, 6 pm). Loznitsa has won prizes and awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010; he also won at the Festival dei Popoli in 2014 for the “Best Feature Film Award.” In total, six of his films will premiere at the festival and a masterclass will be offered by Loznitsa himself on November 8 for free.

There will also be a Popoli for Kids! that will show movies for children and the whole family, centered around childhood and adolescence. The festival will also be showing several films at the Ottagono delle Murate in the Le Murate complex from their archive from the 3rd to 9th and is open to the public for free. For those that are eager to learn about creating films, the Doc at Work Campus workshop and lectures will be offered and will feature films created by film students.


The international competition is featuring many female directors and producers as well as an extremely diverse selection of documentaries from Japan, the U.S., across Europe, Syria, Africa, and more.  All of the films competing in both the international and Italian competition will be premiering for the first time in Italy.

There will be six awards to be selected from a total of 20 entries. Three of the awards are for the best short documentaries (six entries), mid-length (seven entries), and feature-length (seven entries) categories. The remaining awards are the “Gian Paolo Paoli” Award for anthropological films, the Audience Award and  “Gaze of the Other” Award, fully titled “The Gaze of the Other: The Challenge of Dialogue between Cultures and Religion,” which also will include Italian submissions. The Italian competition, with seven movies, presents two other Popoli prizes: the Doc Home-Video Distribution Award, and “Imperdibili” Theatre Release Award.

Festival dei Popoli is organized by the Italian Institute for Social Documentary Film ONLUS with support from the Italian Ministry for Arts and Culture. For more information about the festival, films, locations, and times, the program can be found at on the website in both Italian and English. (jax viteznik)